Founded in 1911 as a surveying and engineering company in Dayton, Ohio, Woolpert has become the fastest growing architecture, engineering and geospatial (AEG) firm in the nation. Over the years, Woolpert has grown organically by responding to the needs of its clients and its communities, assisting with everything from rural electrification during the Great Depression to wartime engineering and surveying services at Air Force bases during World War II and building its aviation infrastructure practice. After the war, Woolpert expanded its environmental, transportation, and sanitary engineering as communities grew. Later, the company developed municipal planning and management applications, expanding into photogrammetry in the 1960s.
Evolving into geospatial technologies, data management, information management technology consulting, and more, Woolpert has continued to augment and integrate its services. For over 100 years and with 26 offices across the U.S., Woolpert serves the needs of federal, state, and local governments; private and public companies and universities; energy and transportation departments; and the U.S. Armed Forces.
In-Conversation with CEO Scott Cattran
Q .An organization is defined by its core values. What are Woolpert’s core values and how are they helping the company to succeed?
At Woolpert, we have six core values: balanced, focused, industry-leading, supportive, high-performing and progressive. Each of these values is important, but our most important core value in guiding our growth is “progressive,” and the most important core value in guiding our culture is “supportive”. High performance and industry leadership result from that focus. We are among the few firms that identifies itself as a true architecture, engineering and geospatial (AEG) firm, and we have been the only AEG firm listed among ENR’s Top 500 Design Firms for each of the last two years. Creating our own category demands that we strive to lead in all verticals and that we are focused on being the best in each industry.
Internally, culture has been our top strategic initiative since 2015. We believe people are going to do better when they’re supported, and that core value has been a major positive for the company moving forward.
Q. Any company, big or small, must have the sense of authenticity and originality to succeed. Is your company a ‘leader’ or a ‘follower’?
Our position as the AEG trailblazer makes our firm a leader by definition, and we continue to strive to lead all individual markets we serve. Over the last few years, we have grown quickly, jumping from 83rd on the Zweig Group’s 2017 Hot Firm List to 18th on the 2018 list, and it has all been accomplished through organic growth. If we had completed acquisitions in that time frame, we almost assuredly would be in the top 10.
Q. Over the years, what kind of responses have you received from your consumers? How have they motivated you to shape Woolpert’s offering and growth?
When I took over the Water market at Woolpert, one of the things that was big in the water industry was offering integrated services. Pretty soon, every firm was saying that they were an integrated firm because that’s what the customer said it wanted. But what we did at that time was to take it to the next level by restructuring the entire Water market to offer integrated services and serve the customer as needed.We changed from a service-type vertical, i.e. engineering, to a market-based vertical, i.e. water. Then we brought all of our AEG services to the Water market vertical. Following the success of that adjustment, Woolpert restructured the entire firm to offer integrated services across all of our markets. This way we can bring all of our services to every one of our markets, and this was and continues to be driven by customers and for customers.
Q. What makes Woolpert one of the best companies in the industry?
It’s a combination of internal and external attention to needs, continually pushing to be excellent in vision, mission, core values, and culture.
We are reliable, meaning we have established long-term success and sustainability. More than 86 percent of all our clients, big and small, return to us for additional services or projects. This is a testament to the quality and value that we offer across the firm.
Furthermore, we’ve earned distinction as a Great Place to Work (GPTW) every year since 2016, and we take pride in that as a reflection of our work to build our culture to match the needs of our employees. We also use the results of GPTW surveys to find the issues prevalent to the whole organization and make addressing those issues a priority. We put actions behind people’s needs to build a better firm at the regional and national levels. This makes us one of the best companies to work for.
The Future Vision
Being a premier architecture, engineering and geospatial (AEG) firm, Woolpert consistently focuses on the value of the services it gives to its clients. It continually works to identify new solutions through developing technologies that strengthen the company’s offerings.
Looking to the future, Woolpert believes that it will be leading the industry and individual markets by strategically advising all clients on the best ways to leverage AEG technologies, so each can make the best decisions to help their companies succeed. Internally, it also believes that it will continue to work toward becoming one of the best companies in the world to work for.
A Supportive Leader with a Big Vision
Scott Cattran, President & CEO: Scott Cattran joined Woolpert in 1999 as a phase manager and held several advancing leadership positions at multiple offices before being named to the top leadership position of COO in 2014-15 and then CEO and president in 2016. Cattran has an intense passion for making Woolpert excel in culture and industry, enabling the firm to become the fastest growing architecture, engineering and geospatial (AEG) firm in the country.
Cattran earned bachelor’s degrees in geography and English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in GIS from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and a Global Executive MBA from Duke University in 2017.